The University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center rehabilitates its first harp seal pup
The University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center (MARC) is rehabilitating its first harp seal pup that was rescued by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on February 23, 2011.
Historically, harp seals give birth to their pups on the ice floes off the Canadian coastline, not on the Maine coastline. This harp seal pup was born in a cove in Sprucehead, Maine. Unfortunately, the mother slipped into the ocean and did not return. The Maine Department of Marine Resources rescued the pup 14 hours after birth and brought it to MARC for rehabilitation.
As the first harp seal pup in rehabilitation at MARC, animal care technicians are using new and innovative rehabilitation techniques to care for and keep this animal healthy and wild. Other marine scientists at MARC are investigating whether or not this could be another sign of global climate change, or simply the range of the harp seals increasing as juvenile and adult harp seals have been increasingly common on Maine shores in the winter months (January through March).
Charles Tilburg, assistant professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, states, "The February ice extent in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence tied 2005 for a record low, suggesting that the preferred birthing location for harp seals is much smaller than in previous years. It would make sense that they would tend to seek out other locations for birthing."